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The Felmingham Hall hoard

  • Head from hoard

    Head from hoard

 

Height: 15.500 cm (head of Jupiter)
Diameter: 6.000 cm (wheel)

P&EE 1925 6-10 1, 3-4, 7-9, 11-13, 16, 32

Room 49: Roman Britain

    The Felmingham Hall hoard

    Roman Britain, 2nd-3rd century AD
    Found at Felmingham Hall, Norfolk (1844)

    The Felmingham Hall hoard consists of bronze statuettes buried in a large pottery jar. It is likely to be a temple hoard, and reveals the combination of classical and native religious traditions typical in Roman Britain.

    From left to right:

    The bronze rattle, reconstructed from the handle, two sides and binding which were separate when found, was probably used in divination or other religious ritual.

    The lar is in purely Roman style. Lares were protective domestic spirits whose images were placed in household shrines.

    The wheel was an attribute of a major Celtic deity, Taranis, who in Celtic mythology is the god of the wheel, associated with forces of change. His name means 'thunder' ('taran' is the Welsh word for a clap of thunder). Taranis was known all over the Celtic world, and was sometimes equated with Jupiter by the Romans.

    The helmeted female head represents the goddess Minerva.

    The birds holding round objects in their beaks were evidently originally mounted on some other object. They have Celtic rather than Roman connections.

    The two small bronze mounts come from headdresses. They were probably worn by priests during religious rituals. The larger mount, representing a bearded male head with solar rays and a lunar crescent, may be interpreted as Helios, the sun.

    The bearded head of the chief Roman god, Jupiter, is made in two pieces. A separate wreath or diadem would originally have encircled the head and joined the pieces.

    T.W. Potter, Roman Britain, 2nd edition (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)